Post from Finsbury Park, North London

by Richard Klein on August 12, 2011

The Tottenham uprising should be seen independently from what is being called the ‘copy cat’ rioting around London and the UK. In Tottenham a black man was shot dead by the police. We have already been told that the victim was not aiming a gun at anyone. If he had a gun, it would be invisible to the police. We also know that he was under surveillance, and that is why armed officers were present. The assumption is that Mr. Duggan, the victim, was dangerous. We also know that the police officer who murdered him, fired a second bullet which lodged in the radio of a colleague. Unless the armed officer had some sort of grudge against his colleague, we are permitted to arrive at a tentative judgement about this man that he is suffering from anxiety- as has been suggested to me by my friend Bruno de Florence. Anxiety could explain some of this scene. I am not aware that any further information has been forthcoming. Another assumption is that Mr. Duggan’s taxi driver described the scene to some local members of the community which spread rapidly through the rest of the community.
We do have a lot of information on the history of the relations between the police and the Tottenham community. Mr. Duggan is not the first black member of this community to be murdered by the police. It took a lot of harassment over the years before uprisings became the regular reply to a murder. This is the second one that I have experienced myself. There doesn’t seem to have been that many. The occurrence of a second one- or so- indicates to me that a tradition is being established. One policeman that I know of was killed. I remember his name as Colin Blakemore. He was killed in a conflagration between the police and the Caribbean community. From this history one can deduce that everyone knows what the police don’t seem to know: there is a good chance that a police killing of a member of the Tottenham community will be followed by an uprising.
The tradition being postulated is founded on enjoyment (the French call it jouissance). More precisely, it is founded on the hate of the other’s enjoyment. A French psychoanalyst, Lacan, made the observation (Referenced in endnote). A white police force hates the other’s enjoyment, the black man’s enjoyment, the black woman’s enjoyment. This enjoyment is quite contagious- as all enjoyment is. It excites something in the white man, excites him to sing, dance and play music. The white man begins to enjoy and begins to hate his own enjoyment. Some white men begin to love it. Notwithstanding, the riot is an English tradition. I have to agree with what seems to be the general opinion that it’s a little shocking to observe children establishing themselves in this tradition. Enjoyment is contagious. It always has been once it wakes up- which is one way of founding a tradition. The black man knows how to manage his enjoyment along the paths of sublimation. If one kills him. One faces non sublimatory enjoyment.


Love of one’s neighbour: Session of March 20th 1960, in ‘The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960: The seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book VII, Translated by Dennis Porter, Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller, Chapter XIV: Love of one’s neighbour [A special God, Fool and Knave, The Truth about Truth, Why ‘jouissance’ is evil, Saint Martin, Kantian tales] Availability given here:  Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here